What's mommy eating?

Out of Stanford, a study of parents that doesn't seem to be lighting up the talk shows: Is there a relationship between parental self-reported psychopathology and symptom severity in adolescents with anorexia nervosa?

I'll give it a snappier title: "Do sicker parents create sicker kids?"

In a study of sixty adolescent girls with anorexia, fathers and mothers reported greater levels of obsessive compulsive behaviors, depression, and anxiety than parents of kids in the general population. No shocker there: the traits associated with eating disorders are largely genetic. Sounds like more sympathy and support for the family is in order to help the patient and his or her support system.

The longer the patient had been ill, the angrier dad was. The sicker the patient, the more hostile mom was. Gosh... really? Families under the strain of an illness they are largely helpless to control, feel blamed for, and see their child stolen by - aren't accepting the situation with good humor?**

But here's the take home that no one seems to be taking home: although parents in the study were more eating disordered than the general population, "results of this study do not support a direct influence of parental psychopathology on symptom severity of adolescent AN."

So maybe it is time to consider retiring the "aha" moment where we dissect a parent's eating for clues on why a child is ill and get onto the problem solving of how to address things NOW. Maybe instead of looking for causation we can get on to seeing how this family is suffering and needs help. One member of the family is ill=hard. More than one=even harder.

**"Increasing rates of hostility scores in parents with increased duration of AN may represent either a response to the presence of the disorder or be a maintaining factor for AN."


  1. it does make sense that they'd be disordered too, which does not imply causation. I do think that children can learn to diet from their parents, though. But then, they'd learn that anywhere. So I'd never blame my parents.

  2. Do sicker kids create sicker parents? :(


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